BusinessEducationMicro-Grants, Flexible Credits Could Help College Students Graduate

Micro-Grants, Flexible Credits Could Help College Students Graduate

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A pilot program in Knox County provides cash to cover emergencies for college students in the region, and education experts say Knox Promise is just one example of how the state can help more Tennessee students complete a degree and navigate a changing labor market.

Randy Boyd, president of the University of Tennessee system and chairman of Tennessee Achieves, said the completion grants underscore the need for a wider net of services to keep students attending classes.

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“These are very small grants, micro-grants – it could be $100, it could be $500 – for students that suddenly have something unexpected that comes up that could derail them, like a radiator breaks in their car,” he said. “For some students, it makes a difference in whether they are going to be able to graduate.”

Boyd said colleges have seen a 43% increase in student success by offering completion grants. According to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, barely half of students who enter college finish their degrees within six years, and the completion rates are lower for low-income, Hispanic and Black students.

Boyd said funding for the pilot was provided by a private donor, but added that he hopes to expand the program to all Tennessee students.

“So, for a very small amount of money statewide – we estimated about $4.5 million a year – we could have a statewide completion grant program,” he said. “It’s something we’re going to be championing in the future.”

Boyd said the state also could revise rules on transferring credits between colleges. He noted that barriers to transferring from a community college to a four-year institution particularly affect students of color.

“We definitely need to look at how we credential and how we provide more options to our students,” he said.

Based on the most recent attainment rates, the state would need to help an additional 60,000 Black Tennesseans obtain an associate or bachelor’s degree to close the education gap with white Tennesseans.

Un programa piloto en el condado de Knox proporciona dinero en efectivo para cubrir emergencias para estudiantes universitarios en la region, y los expertos en educacion dicen que Knox Promise es solo un ejemplo de como el estado puede ayudar a mas estudiantes de Tennessee a obtener un titulo y a navegar en un mercado laboral cambiante.

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El presidente de sistemas de la Universidad de Tennessee, Randy Boyd, dice que las becas de finalizacion subrayan la necesidad de una red mas amplia de servicios para que los estudiantes sigan asistiendo a clases.

“Estas son becas muy pequenas, micro-subvenciones (podrian ser $100, podrian ser $500) para aquellos estudiantes a los que de pronto puede surgirles algo inesperado y podria hacerles descarrilar”, dijo Boyd, “Por ejemplo, un radiador que descompone su automovil; para algunos estudiantes, esto hace una diferencia en la posibilidad de graduarse.”

Boyd dice que las universidades han visto un aumento del 43 por ciento en el exito de los estudiantes al ofrecerles becas de finalizacion. Segun la Comision de Educacion Superior de Tennessee, apenas la mitad de los estudiantes que ingresan a la universidad terminan sus titulos en seis anos, y las tasas de finalizacion son mas bajas para los estudiantes negros e hispanos de bajos ingresos.

Boyd senala que los fondos para el programa piloto fueron proporcionados por un donante privado, pero agrega que esperan expandir el programa a todos los estudiantes de Tennessee.

“Entonces, por una cantidad muy pequena de dinero en todo el estado, estimamos alrededor de $ 4.5 millones al ano, podriamos tener un programa de becas de finalizacion en todo el estado”, Boyd reconocio, “Esto algo que vamos a defender en el futuro.”

Boyd agrega que el estado tambien podria revisar las reglas para la transferencia de creditos entre universidades. Senala que las barreras para el traslado de un colegio comunitario a una institucion de cuatro anos afectan particularmente a los estudiantes de color.

“Definitivamente necesitamos observar como obtener las credenciales y como brindar mas opciones a nuestros estudiantes”, senala Boyd.

Con base en las tasas de logros mas recientes, el estado necesitaria ayudar a otros 60 mil habitantes negros de Tennessee a obtener un titulo de asociado o licenciatura para cerrar la brecha educativa con los habitantes blancos de Tennessee.

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